Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fictional Phenomenon - It's Just Divine

Gene Roddenberry, Hollywood screenwriter and creator of Star Trek, once said, "No one in his right mind gets up in the morning and says, 'I think I'll create a phenomenon today.'" Fiction author Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, would probably agree with him, yet these two writers created story worlds and characters who have become deeply ingrained in our culture. Will they be considered to be some of the greatest writers of our time? Possibly not, but characters like Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and James Bond will live on in the imaginations of fans.

Sharon posted about the amazing recent popularity of The Shack and Twilight, and made the observation that perhaps story trumps craft. I would agree and go a step further to suggest that, in addition, story world trumps craft. The proof of this is in the vast proliferation of fan fiction. Fans refuse to leave the richly textured worlds that their favorite authors create--along with the characters--and continue with their own stories in order to perpetuate that story world. The Lord of the Rings would also fall into this phenomenon category. The hippie catch-phrase, Frodo Lives, showed up as early as the 60's and 70's on t-shirts, buttons and graffiti, but even today, the story sells in book form, on DVDs and online gaming programs. Forty years later, fans are still churning out fan fiction starring their favorite characters in Middle Earth.

I began the first book in the Twilight series, just to see what all the hoopla was about, but the teen perspective didn't hold my interest. I get the forbidden allure of the brooding Edward --perhaps Meyer's answer to 'Mr. Darcy' as a vampire. However, I did get a taste of the story world and I can see how it could easily become a brooding character in itself. If I were a teen, I would probably be camping out at Barnes & Noble at midnight waiting for the next installment to arrive.

So, while story world could help explain Twilight's shot to stardom, what about The Shack? I pushed through The Shack in anticipation of the out-of-the-box personifications that had caused a major rift in the Christian community, and I have to say that I think Divine purpose was responsible for its meteoric rise. Does anyone remember a sleeper movie about a dedicated Christian who refused to compromise his ideals, called Chariots of Fire? In a surprise upset in 1981, it took 4 out of 7 academy awards, including Best Picture. (I'll never forget the look of utter shock on Warren Beatty's face when Reds lost the Oscar.) Now, I only compare the two to illustrate my belief that God is in control, because Chariots was extremely well done. It had stiff competition, just like The Shack, but the story was divinely inspired, rising to the top like cream over big-budget movies such as On Golden Pond, Reds and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was found winsome and worthy in the eyes of the Academy judges, and had something to say at a time when we desperately needed to hear it. There is no way to predict such divine phenomenon.


Unknown said...

I think all books that qualify as what you're calling phenomena invariably demonstrate the flip side of popularity. You can call it controversy or even backlash, you can speak of how it polarizes or alienates.

But another thing you point out, Debbie, is remarkable to me. That's the fact that in so many of the cases of such phenomena of publishing, an author will point back to some sort of supernatural event or trigger that got the ball of publishing rolling for an author.

Published authors, do you have such stories?

Kathleen Popa said...

Debbie, thanks for reminding me of Chariots of Fire. What a great film.

It's my theory that every story that really hits a nerve is ultimately religious, whether we like what it says or not. Recently on a Kindlings Muse podcast, someone quoted Anne Rice to say that her vampire stories were all about the search for lost paradise.

I wonder: can anyone think of a surprise best seller that wasn't - at least subtly - about God?

Laura J. Davis said...

In answer to Latayne's question on supernatural events (or intervention in my case) - I am a self-published author. The first thing I ever wrote was out of my hands before I even realized what was happening. God was definitely in control! From the cover, which was beautifully done and given to me free of charge, to the title (Come to Me), which I kept hearing from various sources and people, until one day, I received a cd in the mail with one single song on it (a cd I did not order) - the name of the song? Come to Me!

All along I had intended the book to be for unsaved family and friends, but I quickly discovered that God had other plans. Soon I was on national television and radio and being told that my book should be in the hands of anyone who wants to know about Jesus. I'm stunned and humbled and very aware of the fact that the Lord took my inexperience and used me anyway.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Laura, what a beautiful story of Divine intervention.

Latayne C Scott said...

I agree with Sharon -- Laura's story is a testimony to the power of God. And I read an excerpt on your blog, Laura. Very insightful!

Latayne C Scott

Bonnie Grove said...

You can hear more of Laura's story on my other blog http://fictionmatters.blogspot.com She'll be there March 17th.

Patti Hill said...

I'll be there! I'll be there! What an amazing story.

The creative process IS a powerful partnership with the Creator of the universe. I'm forever asking God what should happen next. I love hearing his voice and gentle--and sometimes not-so-gentle--nudging in a fresh direction. As with all faith endeavors, following can be scary but never disappointing. I can't think of anything more satisfying than walking through a story with Jesus.